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Distraction – a misnomer

By January 23, 2011People+Technology

Imagine you want to accomplish a certain goal very badly. Something very important to you. Something that would be quite worthwhile, and rewarding.

Now, imagine if you know you can’t fail. You already know how to do it, you have ample time, and you’re well fed and well caffeinated. You’re sitting in a deluxe ergonomic leather chair… In a great working space, with a view of the mountains.

Could you bring yourself to do it?

Most people say yes.

We all have some kind of dream, or some kind of passion… We all want to create something. It might just be to get the comfier couch or the tastier organic chips, but at least we have a goal!

Perhaps it’s the project for the boss, the script for the play, or the business process for keeping rowdy employees in line. Perhaps it’s the bulk mailer you want to send to your clients or the business plan you’d need to write for startup funding.

But… We just keep getting… Distracted!

Something comes up. Something prevents us from actually doing the hard part.

We’re very good at explaining it all away. “I’m easily distracted,” or “I have ADD,” or my favorite: “I don’t have time to focus on one thing for that long.”

And when you eventually sit down to start the project, when you do eventually muster up the courage to start… DING! You suddenly have an urgent need to check your email.

Facebook calls to you. You text the friend you didn’t get back to earlier. That pile of papers that has been on your desk for a month needs to be sorted. Urgently.

I don’t think the project is stagnating because of distractions.

I think distraction is an effect.

It’s what happens when we get scared, or when we bump up against limits we haven’t pushed before. It’s what happens when we’re afraid we can’t do it, when we’re afraid to fail, and when it just isn’t important enough to do the work.

It’s pulling the parachute, scratching the itch, jumping ship. It’s giving up (in that moment).

I mean really – if I gave you $1,000,000 in cash to do it even though you’re scared and uncomfortable, could you find a way?

If we understand fear and we’re clear on what we want, it’s not called distraction. It’s a choice. I choose to work, or else I choose to creep a friend’s cute friend on Facebook.

So how do you work through the so-called “ADD,” or short attention span? Just sit there, hold your calls, leave the stack of paper, avoid Facebook, and push the limit. Even if it’s just five minutes of the hard work.

Then, tomorrow, do it for 10 minutes. See how many times in 10 minutes you can experience the distracting itch without scratching it.

I think you get the idea. It’s just another muscle.

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